David Rogers: Yes, it’s pretty convenient living next to a convenience store
When people around New England hear a nor’easter is set to descend upon the region, one of their first thoughts is whether they should drop what they are doing and race to the local store to pick up bread and milk before everyone else does.
Luckily for my wife and me, we never have to worry about that.
We live next door to a convenience store. And by next door, I mean I can stick my arm out of our bedroom window and touch the building with my fingertips. You cannot imagine the satisfaction of rolling out of our bed at the drop of a hat and grab that gallon of milk or loaf of bread. But there’s just so much more there. I am a certifiable newspaper junkie, and while I could just as easily (or even easier) subscribe to the New York Times, I love the idea of strolling into my store shortly after it opens, saying hello to the store’s proprietor/my next-door neighbor and picking up a fresh copy.
And because the owner (I’ll call him, Mickey) knows me, sometimes he cuts me some slack. I typically don’t read the Sunday New York Times because the thought of plunking down $5 for a newspaper is outrageous. Well, one Sunday when feeling completely lazy, I treated myself to a copy. So I went down there with a $5 bill and grabbed one.
The next morning when picking up the Monday edition, Mickey informed me that I owed him an extra dollar since the Sunday NYT is $6. Momentarily stunned by my ignorance, I asked Mickey why he didn’t tell me that the day before. He replied, matter of factly, that he’d knew I’d be back the follow morning.
That’s merely one advantage. Here’s one more: We don’t smoke or play the lottery, but we sure love candy. My wife really digs Chunky bars and Snickers, while I’m more into sweet candy like Hot Tamales, Lemonheads and Skittles. And did I mention they have beer and wine? Oh, yes, they do!
Of course, like everything else in life, there are a few drawbacks to what really is a sweet deal.
For one, trash day can be infuriating. Dealing with your own trash is a pain in the first place, especially when it’s raining (like it did EVERY SINGLE DAY in March). But since there aren’t any municipal trash barrels outside the store, folks don’t have a problem using ours. Invariably, when I return home from work that evening, there are half-empty cups of soda, a half-dozen worthless scratch tickets and sometimes little bags of dog poop.
Yes, I could make it easier if I had lids for our barrels. But as anyone who has trash barrels knows, the over/under before losing your lids is about two weeks.
Another drawback is the noise. The store opens at 8 a.m. and closes at 10 p.m. The mornings aren’t so bad because we’re up pretty early these days, thanks to having a toddler. But the evenings … they can be brutal.
There isn’t any legal parking next to the store, so people tend to pull up next to the store, put on their hazards and leave the car running. Sometimes they’ll even park on the sidewalk. There are signs all around the store not to do that, but no one seems to care.
Finally, sometimes familiarity with the owner can be embarrassing. Walking past the store one night after work recently, I saw Mickey chewing out his 20-something son for something. And before I had a chance to veer off into another direction, they saw me. Fortunately, they were speaking a foreign tongue so they knew that I had no idea what was being said. Still, it was kind of awkward walking into a heated row. It’s one thing if a stranger bumbles into the middle of an argument. But it’s quite another when it’s your neighbor having the argument and he can reach out from his bedroom window and touch your house.
David Rogers is an editor with GateHouse Media New England. Any comments? Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.